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Fw: {Little Minyan} Consider Counting the Omer this year

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  • Cheryl Levine
    Thanks so much for this, Jessica!! Fondly, -c   ... -- ... Thanks so much for this, Jessica!! Fondly, -c ----- Forwarded Message ----- From: Jessica Shimberg
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 26, 2013
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      Thanks so much for this, Jessica!!
      ----- Forwarded Message -----
      From: Jessica Shimberg <jkshimberg@...>
      To: Little Minyan <littleminyan@...>
      Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 4:37 PM
      Subject: {Little Minyan} Hag Sameakh ~ Happy Passover Minyanites! Consider Counting the Omer this year

      Dear Chevre,

      Tonight begins the period of counting the Omer.  This ancient practice is rooted in Torah (Leviticus 23:15-16 "You shall count for yourselves -- from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving -- seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh Sabbath you shall count, fifty days.") and refers to the time when the Temple stood and our People brought Omer (sheaves of harvested crop) as an offering on the second day of Pesach. This offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest began the grain harvest, and 7 weeks later, the conclusion of this bountiful period was marked by 2 loaves of bread at the Temple in Jerusalem, signifying the wheat harvest. Shavuot (literally "weeks" and a festival specified in Exodus 34:22 and Deuteronomy 16:10) becomes an allusion to the seven weeks that transpired between the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the receiving of Torah at Mount Sinai.

      Although the origin of the practice of counting the Omer is biblical and agrarian in nature, many (myself included) find if meaningful to use this period for spiritual reflection, clarification, and cleansing. Much as we do in early autumn with the month of Elul in preparation for the High Holy Days, counting the Omer is a simple, disciplined practice we can draw from our Jewish heritage to take a short breath each day and do a bit of spiritual Spring cleaning.  

      The counting of the Omer connects us with the natural cycle of time: 
      - the cycle of day and night (the simple blessing and counting occurs at night - the beginning of a new day on the Hebrew calendar)
      - the cycle of the weeks (when we get to day 8, we count 1 week and 1 day of the Omer)
      - the cycle of the seasons (from Spring to Summer in the land of Israel and early spring to late spring for us in North America)
      - the cycle of the earth's yield (first fruits of the harvest - from barley harvest to wheat harvest) 
      - the cycle of sacred Jewish time (from Passover to Shavuot) 

      If you are interested in creating your own practice for counting the Omer, there are many options. It can be as simple as looking in your copy of Kol Haneshamah and using the materials on pages 674 through 683. You can find all kinds of Omer counters on line. There is even a Simpsons "Homer Counter." Yes, really.  My favorite tools include the work of Rabbi Simon Jacobson (I have attached his first e-mail of the count below; send him an e-mail to sign up for the list - a small donation is appreciated) and Rabbi Yael Levy (sign up for a daily Omer e-mail at http://mishkan.org/omer-signup. You can read a great article she posted in the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-yael-levy/what-is-the-counting-of-the-omer_b_1408722.html.

      Just as we are to tell the story of Pesach as if we were there, fleeing slavery, let us consider the journey toward freedom in the same light, walking in the footsteps of our ancestors and leaving our own footprints in the sand.

      May your wandering in the wilderness bring you insight, nourishment, and strength,
      Jessica K. Shimberg
      Spiritual Life Coordinator, The Little Minyan
      Rabbinical Student, ALEPH - Alliance for Jewish Renewal
      614.459.9593 (home)
      614.592.9593 (mobile)

      כמים הפנים לפנים
      לב–האדם לאדם
      As face answers face in the water,
      So does one's heart to another's. - Proverbs 27:19

      From: MLC | <wisdomreb@...>
      Date: March 25, 2013 2:41:15 PM EDT
      Subject: Daily Omer Reminder, Day 1 &amp; 2

      Tuesday night, March 26, we count one day of the Omer.
      Wednesday night, March 27, we count two days of the Omer.
      Day 1 - Chesed of Chesed: Lovingkindness in Lovingkindness
      Love is the single most powerful and necessary component in life. It is both giving and receiving. Love allows us to reach above and beyond ourselves, to experience another person and to allow that person to experience us. It is the tool by which we learn to experience the highest reality - God. Examine the love aspect of your love. Ask yourself: What is my capacity to love another person? Do I have problems with giving? Am I stingy or selfish? Is it difficult for me to let someone else into my life? Am I afraid of my vulnerability, of opening up and getting hurt?
      Exercise for the day: Find a new way to express your love to a dear one.

      Day 2 - Gevurah of Chesed: Discipline in Lovingkindness

      Healthy love must always include an element of discipline and discernment; a degree of distance and respect for another's boundaries; an assessment of another's capacity to contain your love. Love must be tempered and directed properly. Ask a parent who, in the name of love, has spoiled a child; or someone who suffocates a spouse with love and doesn't allow them any personal space.

      Exercise for the day: Help someone on their terms not on yours. Apply yourself to their specific needs even if it takes effort.

      Excerpt from The Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer, by Simon Jacobson. ©Copyright The Meaningful Life Center, 2013. All rights reserved.www.meaningfullife.com.
      Click here to order the book. Click here to download the MyOmer mobile app. For more information on this fascinating 49 day journey click here.
      To subscribe to this daily Omer reminder, please click here.
      Please help us continue offering this valuable service by making a suggesteddonation of $5. Click here to make your secure on-line donation now.

      The Omer is counted at night, while standing, immediately following the evening prayer. You begin with the following blessing:
      Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.
      Following this blessing you count the specific day of the Omer, and then recite the following prayer:
      May the Merciful One restore the Holy Temple to its place, speedily in our days; Amen.
      For the Choirmaster; a song with instrumental music; a Psalm. May G-d be gracious to us and bless us; may He make His countenance shine upon us forever; that Your way be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. The nations will extol You, O G-d; all the nations will extol You. The nations will rejoice and sing for joy, for You will judge the peoples justly and guide the nations on earth forever. The peoples will extol You, O G-d; all the peoples will extol You, for the earth will have yielded its produce and G-d; our G-d, will bless us. G-d will bless us; and all, from the farthest corners of the earth, shall fear Him.
      We implore you, by the great power of Your right hand, release the captive. Accept the prayer of Your people; strengthen us, purify us, Awesome One. Mighty One, we beseech You, guard as the apple of the eye those who seek Your Oneness. Bless them, cleanse them; bestow upon them forever Your merciful righteousness. Powerful, Holy One, in Your abounding goodness, guide Your congregation. Only and Exalted One, turn to Your people who are mindful of Your holiness. Accept our supplication and hear our cry, You who knows secret thoughts. Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.
      Master of the universe, You have commanded us through Moses Your servant to count Sefirat Ha-Omer, in order to purify us from our evil and uncleanness. As You have written in Your Torah, "You shall count for yourselves from the day following the day of rest, from the day on which you bring the Omer as a wave-offering; shall be for seven full weeks. Until the day following the seventh week shall you count fifty days," so that the souls of Your people Israel may be cleansed from their defilement. Therefore, may it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that in the merit of the Sefirat Ha-Omer which I counted today, the blemish that I have caused in the sefirah be rectified and I may be purified and sanctified with supernal holiness. May abundant bounty thereby be bestowed upon all the worlds. May it rectify our nefesh, ruach and neshamah from every baseness and defect, and may it purify and sanctify us with Your supernal holiness. Amen, selah.


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